Successive waves have washed back and forth over the line between sorcery and technology in Tartary. Right now the mood is decidedly technurgical – something unexplained may make the giant run, but its skeleton is almost certainly worked wood or metal, its eyes cameras or viewing screens. And inside there will be a pilot – tucked away, perhaps, like a baby bird in an egg, but altogether in command.
But things were not always thus. Some hints of how they might have been before can be seen in ancient statues, which show stunted, cat-like creatures perched atop strange bodies, steering them to terrible purpose
And then there are the writhing, tormented pits of Azoth under Dashoguz
Most such remnants are assumed once to have been clothed in metal plates, as they would be now. It is inconceivable that the world of power and subjugation should have been ruled by such soft-bodied things, no matter how strong their grip.
Still there are hints that the day of solid iron may be reaching its end. Rumours are circulating that strange, flowing forms have been seen issuing from the Archmage of Ashgabat’s cult-tower (that palace or tomb where the Great Bashi has sealed himself up these past fifty years).
And these fluid giants, the size of a fighting machine, appear to be thinking for themselves.
(BTW, some much better monster creation over here)
Bakchkan stalks Tartary, often in disguise, always causing trouble. He may appear as an Emir or vizier, a visiting merchant loaded with Cathay silks, an angel or a genie or a corner fruit seller (and very, very rarely as a beggar).
Like The Doctor or Gandalf he’s a player of the long game, maneuvering in a dance that began in untold ages past. His actions therefore frequently appear mysterious or nonsensical. Why does he elevate a loser on the street to the royal court? Why does he lift up one prince and cast down another? He is evidently among the very few classical magicians of Tartary, so why does he so rarely use those lightning-throwing powers to get what he wants more directly?
In particular, ask the stage-manager-sorcerers who work the mecharena circuit of Baluchistan,
why does he insist on making a great show of “dropping the ball” and letting the people see behind the illusory-magical curtain? It’s like he wants to sabotage the trade or something.
For all his inscrutability, Bakchkan has a soft spot for neerdowell adventurers and rarely upsets their schemes – unless there’s some deeper plot afoot (so if he mucks up the PCs’ action it’s a fair bet that something’s going on they don’t know about yet… and watching the sorcerer might be a key to finding out about it). As a patron, he tends to offer the moon at the price of the world. And he’s always gone before the fallout hits.
One thing about Bakchkan, at least, is not a mystery – once an enterprising your engineer snatched brief notoriety by stealing The Big B’s aftershave and demonstrating that it had an uncanny effect on all around him – like a mass charm spell, it caused everyone who smelled it to misrecognize the wearer as a friend, a patron, a master or a king.
It was while the young engineer was exploiting its effects to be seen as a lover that the scent abruptly wore off, leading to the engineer’s execution and a thorough reshuffling of the palace staff in the Qaghanate of Herat.
You Know Me (5th level MU spell, available as a potion)
The caster or imbiber can convince all around them that they are a friend, a lover, a trusted confidant or any other role they choose. All who can see the caster or are within smelling range of the imbiber must save vs spells or misrecognize the caster/imbiber as the persona they have adopted. The caster/imbiber must act out their chosen persona in words, manner and gestures, but may otherwise do whatever they wish. Most often the effect is used to infiltrate palaces or sneak past guard trolls but it is known that Bakchkan once spent an entire month living in the harem of the Sultan of Bishkek as one of the Sultan’s most senior and favoured wives – a role in which he was accepted by the Sultan, the guards and, more surprisingly, the previous senior wife.
The effect does not work on machines or optical devices: a photograph would show the caster clearly, although it would not dispel the illusion that clings to the caster’s person – it would merely show that somebody was around that could not be seen normally.
By the way, if you’ve been wondering what all Jason Kielbasa’s recent dance-off posts have to do with my mecha/carcosa wacky races setting, well (a) you haven’t been paying attention and (b) this.
And if you’d really like that done to death, here.
Is Rogues and Reavers’ post on fucking tourists, a new class for LL and Krul. Also ideal for Carcosa, The Bleaklands and anywhere else where life is a daily desperate struggle. It’s especially useful for me because I’m just about to post a bunch more about ERB’s Barsoom books, and what it’s like to read them while traveling through arid, rugged countryside where you don’t really speak the language and also alas can’t jump out of trouble.
here. And I REALLY REALLY need to be working on something else, but then I figures “better to get it out of my brain and down on paper instead,” so here it is.
Disclaimer: Where I say “Ark” and “Noah” please substitute your own fun – Baldur would be fine, or Dave Bowman or Turkmenbashi or whatever you like. Even Noah, I guess. I kinda like the conceit of the Other Ark, with all the creatures that we don’t see around us.
The ark project – a multi-level “open menagerie” – was either a miserable failure or too successful. Point is, there was never a good moment or method for letting the animals out – things got pretty hairy in there after the second generation of forced evolution. So it was sealed up tight behind a combination lock, the key to which was buried with Noah, and a complicated system was made for controlled release of the animals or for drowning the project altogether… one day.
Millenia passed, the complex fell into ruins, and a few critters have escaped – they roost in the ruined machine halls (blue on the map) around the Ark itself. Now those escaped beasties make the whole place dangerous – especially around the Great Lock in the old entrance hall, which links multiple floors in a big open court. The smarter beasts know what will happen if that door is opened, so they keep a watchful eye on the Lock and try to stop anyone meddling with it.
The machine halls can be flooded individually or the whole complex can be flooded, using the still-working pump houses (green on the map) – to neutralize the threats of beasties in one set of halls or another. Some halls get soak occasionally by malfunctions, though: they contain sea life (giant anemones, nautili and such) that’s dormant unless you flood them back to life. If the whole complex is flooded, folks up on the surface will first notice the level of the river sinking abruptly, then once it’s all flooded, the central Ark piece will break loose and rise up to become a new island in the river.
Treasure can include ancient tech tools and gewgaws (eg “jewels” that are really light-up plastic buttons), knowledge (especially about ancient species/maps of long long ago) and the critters, if they can be captured.
Each of the machine halls is an extensive dungeon complex, as is the Ark itself. Pump houses consist of only a few rooms and are uniformly some stories above the galleries: A is particularly inaccessible: reaching it from any direction involves an arduous climb.
Just in case you haven’t been following this nonsense, Carcosa Wacky Races is a not-very-purist turn-based play by post game on G+, in which Mad Max dunebuggies tear across electroradiant hellscapes pursued by mutant dinosaurs.
It’s the first thing I’ve run in maybe 15 years and I’m having a blast. To begin with the orders that came in were mostly fairly tame and sensible, but in the last 2 turns the mayhem level has ramped way up – the players are seriously bringing it. So my neat little 3-paragraph turns have ballooned with all the different kinds of trouble they’ve set in motion. Here are the results of turn 4…
Crunching down the travertines shots are fired left and right. Sweph lobs a mess of rotting meat and metal cans high into the air with his roof-trebuchet, while bits of masonry scatter in his wake.
Rahu, intent on shooting Thora with a peculiar black blunderbuss, is distracted when acid from Poison and Keek hits his scorpion – he misses, his scorpion shrieks in pain, snags a leg on an outcrop and… topples… into the valley of cairns below. Meanwhile Poison, distracted by sacrificing his sky man guide, and Keek, distracted by spraying Rahu, fail to spot Uggs careening crazily down the path behind them. The skullking rams the baby altar from behind, and axe-wielding Uggs leaps across to start murderin’ time. The two vehicles are locked together as they slide past the bridge and disappear among the cairns…
…and Chaz, the skullking’s new driver, blacks out, so they ricochet out of control back and forth among the tombs.
Ahead of them all at the rope bridge, Moon boy leaps from Devil Dino with – is that severed human legs glued to his feet? – and lands on the rearing glassworm, stabbing two electrodes into its back. The glassworm writhes and shrieks, and Moon Boy screams too as his left foot touches the worm’s body and is burned to a crisp – but he holds on. Then the worm’s enormous form swings ponderously over the bridge, while Devil Dino scrabbles madly to catch up.
Just as he hits his stride, however, Devil Dino is toppled by Sweph’s can of spam to the back of the neck. The titanic lizard crashes head-first into the bridge and moves no more –but a smaller, blood-coloured Hemodino springs loose from his long belly wound and disappears into the cairns…
Grampy has had no luck scraping his frogman passenger off on the way down the cliff – the squishy invader straddles the bonnet and works its spatulate fingers into the frame around the windscreen, leering at Grampy, who has to steer looking through its gelid, transparent body. So Haakon takes advantage of Grampy’s distraction to bounce right past him: his ride’s skittering legs leap and tumble past racer after racer, and he hits the bridge neck and neck with Thora.
Grampy accelerates onto the rope span just as the Glassworm drags its furnace mouthparts across the support ropes, setting them instantly afire. The bridge sags: stays snap left and right as Grampy and Oogah tear across. Together they get within 20 feet of the black oil lakes, but the bridge gives out and drops them on top of a flat-roofed mausoleum, just shy of the barricade.
At the same moment, El Diablaser skids onto the bridge, his ride, dragula, covered in tentacled brain. Ayatollah the Grell grabbed hold of him on the way down the travertines; as they lurch onto the bridge the grell is still trying to seize control of dragula but El D is hanging on like grim death against the tentacles’ iron grip. The bridge collapses and together they tumble into the cairns. Crashing through a roof, the whole back of Dragula snaps clean off behind the steering wheel, so now El D is hanging onto the steering column, his feet braced against the gas pedal and dashboard, with a grell hopelessly tangled all over him, and the 2-wheeler roars on for a few seconds with the fuel that’s left in the engine and lines.
Across the bridge at the oil pits, Haakon swerves toward the scree slope, with Thora shooting wildly behind him. Thora is able to grab up 3 barrels and roar away before anyone notices she’s there, but she can’t stop Car-charodon grabbing a barrel behind her as Eribotes fires bravely up at an attacking glassworm, making blue-white bolts of heat rain down from it, eliciting a ragged cheer from the defending men. But then Thora’s cigarillo hits the oil pit beside them and prompts a deafening screech as the oil within rears up in agony, trying to douse the flames spreading across its surface. Cheers turn to panic, and the defenders turn on Eribotes and his infernal machine. Eribotes picks off an orange man with his weird little wand before the defenders close to attack and the racers haul away to escape.
Down among the cairns another kind of hell is breaking loose. Sweph has managed to swipe some weird huge fish and water-weed offerings off a tomb, breaking into its domed roof in the process. But that’s some pretty minor desecration compared with what Rahu’s falling scorpion, Ayatollah the Grell and El D have done. The valley floor is littered with broken tombs like eggshells, their contents exposed to the sky… and with long reaching fingers and a scurrying like monkeys and like shadows, those contents are suddenly swarming all over the valley, tangling up a spiderweb of wrappings and grave-cloths in the narrow alleys of the necropolis…
At the end of the turn, it’s:
1. Haakon in the lead, followed by
2. Thora, with a good haul of fuel. Then
3. Car-charodon, pursued by fuel-defenders. These three are all on the far side of the valley ready to make their ascent, but they face a tough decision: they’ll either have to duck between the glassworms blocking the way to the smooth channel leading up the wall, or deal with a mob of oil defenders running down the scree slope.
Down in the valley,
4. Sweph has just a couple of blocks of cairns and tombs between him and the shield wall, while Poison and Uggs careen down a parallel path, grappled together in a battle royale. Scraggy black figures swarm out of the crypts around all of them.
5. Grampy and Oogah, stuck on their mausoleum roof, will either have to jump the final yards to the fuel pits (dicey) or head down the stairs into the mausoleum and find a way out of the necropolis up the side of the pits (unexplored). So far they can’t see any crypt-creepers nearby…
Behind them, right in the middle of the necropolis, surrounded by a ring of wary crypt-dwellers,
6. Rahu’s scorpion has struggled upright, clearly nursing several injuries. And behind and above Rahu,
7. Moon Boy struggles to stay upright on his giant glassworm. Skeletal, iridescent glass spider things come scampering toward him from both ends of the worm as his human leg heat buffers burst into flame.
8. Ayatollah and El Diablaser, in a snarl of tentacles and brake cables, are interrupted by Hemodino chasing a cryptcreeper between two tombs in front of them.
…two, maybe three turns to go. Start placing your bets…
The old nemesis of Sky Men, the sorcerer Chixi’lu, has been spotted in the plain of glass, north of the Otrar wastes.
Do not approach or attempt to communicate with this extremely dangerous creature. The skald Rebennak has seen him, in his yellow belts of choison, melting men like butter and swirling them into marker-poles for his Lords.
Even the Aristocrats of Urumji were powerless against his depravity
Signs you may be approaching the Scourge Chixi’lu:
- sudden appearance of ritual cast-offs: soulless, mindless women, generally missing one foot, hand or eye;
- giant twisted, horned excrescences grasped up out of the Blessed Warm Plain;
- terrible destruction and grief caused by his summonings.
Avoid him! Shun his Mark! Report his position to Sky men!
That is all.
real lost continents are the best lost continents: Carcosa wacky races and asylum notes for the Sea of O’sr
FIRST, the reason I’ve been silent for a while is I’ve been noodling about writing a little Carcosa/Toxic Tartary Wacky Races game for (among other things) Flailsnails on Google+. The bare outline:
- you can bring whatever lunacy you’ve invented because flailsnails, but at minimum the home setting will have Carcosan dinosaur riders, Mad Max desert buggies, Tharks on Thoats and carnival floats. Racers have to balance the competing demands of zooming across an electroradiant hellscape (thanks Jeff!) with sabotaging each other and roping the local mongrelmen into their diabolical dirty tricks – and the more they divide their attention, the more likely it is all to go horribly wrong;
- the race will be over in 6-8 turns and the prize will be Grand Yet Mystifying;
- your character may die, mutate, get incorporated in the landscape and or reified/deified along the way. Think you can survive a John Boorman bad trip?
I hope to get it up and running in 2 weeks. We’ll see.
Toxic Tartary is Carcosa through a post-Soviet Central Asian radioactive Arabian Nights filter. For a fantasy filter placed over that, see HF Calder’s handy guide to Sky Piracy Around The Dune Sea – of course all of this is happening somewhere in Toxic Tartary, but with the time-spine ripped out of the historical narrative so that everything is always happening at once – pyramids rising, pirates despised/resurgent, gods rising/falling, nobody really knowing what’s going on. Just like real life.
SECOND: “Siberia shmiberia,” you say, “show me the really cold and unfriendly places!” Blood of Prokopius’ Alaskan nightmare looks to me like equal parts militantly anticolonial Cthulhiana (paging jason kielbasa!) and His Dark Materials arctic horror-mining, and that sounds pretty neat, but I want to go south for my Sea of O’sr adventure path…
Lost taught me everything I need to know about the value to be found in a single 5 mile hex and the special kind of claustrophobia you can get from knowing the world is out there but it’s beyond reach. So you’ve found a chart that shows a lost continent of wonders down in the deep south ocean and you’ve braved the Appalling Sea Gyres and hundred foot waves to get there – what do you find?
First of all, that most of your lost continent is under water:
Zealandia, larger than Greenland or India, and almost half the size of Australia… is unusually slender.*
Kerguelen Plateau is an underwater volcanic large igneous province (LIP)** in the southern Indian Ocean. It lies about 3,000 km to the southwest of Australia and is nearly three times the size of Japan. I note, not quite in passing: It is thought that Thule and Cook**** may have been a larger single island in the past, and there is evidence for a submerged crater between the two… Volcanic heat keeps the crater on Thule Island free from ice. Just like Arthur Gordon Pym told us...
I am never resorting to Mu or Lemuria again, these are much cooler – and could be seaweed jungle exotica if they somehow breached into view. Look at this handy Antarctic azymuthal: if we add Rlyeh we get 3 points of… well, actually not a pentagram but a square. Which in some sense is much creepier and more suggestive: Wells gave his Martians tripods because nothing in Earth biology (that he knew of) has 3 legs, and it’s since become a cliche that odd numbers mean alien. But the square, or quincunx (drawing Antarctica’s Mountains of Madness*** into the loop) implicates human involvement about as clearly as it’s possible to do. Giving us a fourth (or fifth) point over the South Sandwich islands near South Georgia.
And suddenly the Falklands War snaps into focus – Argentina, favourite hidey-hole of Hitler-breeding programs, vs. Britain, Evil Emperor of the previous century, fighting over those desolate bits of rock where the colour out of space touches down or, more likely, where it threatens to erupt into the sky. Because check out Gough Island, where you wash up while escaping the Cyclopean basalt towers shooting up on Montagu island, and trying to get back to St. Helena. Sure, when you first crawl ashore it looks a disappointing shade of grey-brown. Until The Colour descends.***** Full set. Stars. This is a campaign frame of seabed-churning horror. The navels of the world – the anchor points of reality – the IKEA allen-key holes into the hollow earth – are found on four islands around the south pole. Tampering with any one of them threatens to break the globe right open and spill the worms out. Alas, I’m not up on my Antarctic Space Nazis, and perhaps all of this is old news to princeofcairo, but given the mindshare New Zealand has claimed since the LoTR movies, I’m starting to think Lawsian thoughts about the effervescent power of collective representations. In my Cthulhu-reversed game, where the PCs were a bunch of monsters ditched in the Bermuda Triangle with a faulty saucer and an Antarctic projection map, all the real action happened underwater. But in this game the point might be not to raise the lost continent but to submerge the ones still left stranded above the protecting waves (fighting against the ancient Atlantean defenses, such as spring-loaded urban floodproofing! Your players will hate it when the Sorcerers of Continent Evil pop their megacity up out of the sea like a turkey thermometer) – to deactivate the transmitter that calls the Mi-go miners back or to keep the crazy nationalist powers of the world from accidentally raising R’lyeh in their ever-more desperate searches for rare earths and fossil fuels.
Perhaps you’re worried that sinking four lost continents won’t be enough of a climax? Here, have 10 vile vortices (because who’s supposed to make do with just one Bermuda triangle?). Does looking at that map make you think that if you kept adding regularly-spaced triangles you could turn the earth into something like a D20? Well actually it’d be a D17… the number of Pokemon types.
* wtf? Unusually slender?
** srsly, wtf? I love the use of the word “province” here. Far from the even larger igneous metropole (ELIM), perhaps. Metamorphic provinces are of course the diasporogenic engines of the World System.
*** not the Cliffs of Insanity, with which my son is currently obsessed. Oh you knew it would happen.
**** is that why they ate him and took his thighbones up on the mountain? Because he’d namesaked them to this toxic-god-unforsaken necklace of rocks? What did they see, from faraway Big Island?
+ OK, a rough square. Which makes me wonder (although not enough to waste time on it), if one can’t draw a lovely Fibonacci spiral linking together all those place – Ponape, Easter Island, Hy-Brazil, Oak Island etc etc, that stubbornly refuse to conform to great circle ley lines, so that they show up on neatly spaced lines like eclipse paths. And take advantage of the fact that the alignments are never quite right.
*****Via bldgblog, again. Also the wonderfully-named Friends of the Pleistocene (nothing to do with Julian May, I think).
If you’re going to include four-armed Green Martians in your game, I reckon they ought to benefit from being able to wield 3- and 4-handed weapons. The trouble is, it’s not so easy to imagine them – I mean sure, you could provide a sword with a really, really long handle, but does it make any sort of sense? Would it actually be cool?
Here’s what I’ve got so far – can you do better?
1. four-handed pentadent: a long stick with a bizarre and ridiculously violent-looking forest of blades on the end, wide enough to hold back a whole column of infantry if you have no regard for your own life.
2. battle-sprange of Kapleurk: a weird metal abortion full of spiky bits and handles, clearly infringing on the Klingons’ copyright – combining aspects of halberd, punch dagger and shield, it works rather like a swiss-army knife, which is to say not very well at all.
3. Radium gatling gun. Big and unwieldy, it requires two hands to hold and another to crank the handle. The fourth is needed for flashing big thumbs ups to all your envious Thark mates.
4. whirling voulge-tree: these really only require two hands, but for full effectiveness you have to use two at a time, interlocking the points for a spinning wheel of steel deathspikes. Not recommended for children under 9 feet tall.
5. Wajestic War Wurlitzer: not technically a weapon, this gigantic pipe organ will nevertheless make you the envy of any operatically-minded enemies you encounter. Exerts an irresistible fascination on vampires, and its gas-powered version is capable of burning them right out of the sky.
6. Cannon. Strictly this is also not a 4-handed weapon, but you can laugh and laugh at those puny red men trying to heave it off their crushed thoats after you’ve bowled them down with it.
Did you all write about Cowboys and Aliens and I just missed it? I may have, I was awfully busy last August, but the only trace I can find in the archives is a casual mention on Roll for Initiative – and I find that strange, because for anyone who groks that DnD is really a western game, it’s just about the most DnD movie ever. More obviously it’s absolutely the most Weird West movie and just about the most Encounter Critical! and with a few tweaks it could be seriously Carcosa, too.
Here’s why you should watch it: it presents a kick-ass OSR adventure module, ready to be ripped off [edited to add: hwrnmnbsol informs me that this might actually be an old module - Legion of Gold for original Gamma World - worked into a film script. I've never played GW (alas) so I cannot confirm], with relatively few of the Standard Hollywood Tricks that would invalidate the whole setting for gaming purposes. It has a couple of monsters, a magic item which is only a bit McGuffiny, and a classic bait-and-switch NPC. And most amazingly for a movie, the situation it presents is pretty open-ended, at least up to about half way through Act 2. You could totally run it, pretty much straight off the reel.
It also works like a little history of DnD. Explaining that will involve spoilers, though, so this is your warning right now (plot synopsis for the weak/impatient).
The opening of the movie is pure Old School Golden Age. You wake up with no memory and a mysterious space-bracer. Our hero’s credentials are established in a fight with a low-level murderhobo gang: he is clearly at least a 5th level fighter (Jake, Chaotic Neutral). From there we go Boot Hill just long enough to introduce the rest of the party: a fish-out-of-water Normal Man/Scholar (“Doc,” LN), an undercover druid/MU (Ella, LG) and another high-level veteran, this time a Warlord (Dolarhyde, NN or CN). Then all hell breaks loose with the first attack and the adventure’s parameters are set: dependents are stolen and must be got back; the magic item works against the baddies; tracking a wounded alien is the obvious first task; getting back the fighter’s memory is the second. Best, most DnD feature of all – let’s imagine that like the average murderhobo you have no dependents, no compassion, no social ties of any kind – why would you pick a fight with these aliens? Because they’re after the exact same thing you’re after: gold. And they’ll steal it from you just like they steal dependents, so sociopaths can get on this plot train too.
Tracking leads to a set piece in an ingeniously imagined strange environment, then to information leading to the dungeon entrance, which presents a daunting challenge.
So far so OSR. And I’ll pause here for 2 digressions:
#1: No less than 3 DCC adventurer-funnels are introduced at various stages (Jake’s Gang – a Carcosan band under a 4th level fighter-tyrant if ever I saw one; the Injuns-who-must-be-convinced; and the abductees who must be unhooked from the BadGuyMachine). BTW, did you know Sandy Petersen invented the funnel? Obvious, really.
#2: my favourite moment in the story – the point where things are widest open, where I for one wasn’t exactly sure where we were headed – is this one shot where our murder-revenge-hobo posse rides into a gulch and they’re viewed from above, from what just might be the runaway alien’s perspective, and suddenly I’m reminded of the opening of A Princess of Mars only our “heroes” are the murdering Indians and the alien is the innocent prospector… But then the moment passes and the aliens are Giger’s creeps but less creepy and we’re back in good old Colonialist Adventure mode.
Anyway, back to the point of the post. It’s here, with the stakes set, that the movie heads in a Dragondance/Ravenlost direction and loses its dramatic premise and gamist focus of these are ordinary folks facing a crazy threat what will they do? Because it turns out that Ella’s another kind of alien (with Raise Dead on demand!) and Jake has amnesia-recovery insights and the Fate Of The World rests on their actions and most of all the aliens always attack right at that moment when Jake would otherwise have to face the roleplaying challenge of actually trying to convince people of anything and so now all choices are obvious and you gotta do what you gotta do and so it’s all dramatic scenes from here on out: stuff must happen in the nick of time, people must have the right backgrounds and secrets, all parts of the key must come together in the lock and it’s Hollywood’s Usual Business, which lead us down that whole Adventure Path Destiny Screenwriting 101 rabbit hole. And you can see how that’s crack to a certain kind of gamer/viewer, because when the scenery is set up just so you can get the light to fall where you want and it’s wow and ooh and aah and “surprise” and plucky orphan stabs the monster and boom at just the right moment for the hairsbreadth escape and every action has a Moral Meaning.
Only the movie doesn’t quite give in to it, like Favreau’s a little ashamed of the formula or something (sure, you knew Craig and Wilde were going to have Romantic Tension but it’s not quite what you were thinking because she’s not that kind of sexy alien chick but this kind), and that’s what keeps it all applicable to OSR gaming. Remember the funnels? They’re really funnels. Extras cop it like they were Raiding Innsmouth. Most of all, although the elements are there for a Magic Key railroad, it doesn’t at all have to work like that if you’re a slightly creative DM – nobody has to make stupid decisions in order for the plot to work. So the bracer can be set to explode as well as fire? The PCs could learn that without needing aliengirl to tell them. Let them have 2 or 3 bracers: it won’t invalidate the challenge of taking on the aliens’ ship/base, although it may make the possible tactics more varied. So you have to get the exploding bracer into the powercore to make it all go boom? Show the core. If you’re feeling generous you could even let Jake remember it all well enough to draw a map, so you can run the dungeon as a proper heist (“they got their power from this glowing ball – I remember it swung out on an arm – I guess it’s kept high up in the tower”). In fact, dump the whole amnesia thing, say the fighter previously escaped but from a moving vehicle and that’s why he doesn’t know the way back to the base at the start. Same result, allows for more heistable background, less serendipitous recall.
Aliens: the fact that I can’t find a screenshot of these guys tells you that you should just use Giger’s original chitinhead instead, or whatever would fit your campaign. They’re pretty much reskinned blink dogs, but they have Powerful Jump instead of actual teleporting. 5 HD, AC 3, claw/claw/bite for 1d8/1d8/1d4. In their flying machines they totally show off Favreau’s lust for Gulf War news footage – they have exactly the quiet creepiness and sudden destructive power of A10s. AC goes down to 2, speed goes up to airplane but somehow a running horse can still keep up with them.
Bracer of Lightning Bolts:
seems to have unlimited charges, but maybe it’s really only 1d20 and we just don’t get to see it run out. Glows and beeps when aliens are near (unclear why, but there you are), destroying surprise for both sides.
Finally, Filmdrunk may have provided the title for Joesky’s fantasy heartbreaker: EXPLOSIONS & VELOCIRAPTORS & BOOBS.
…well, she’s probably supposed to be at least 200, I think – reds live a long time and she was no teenager when John Carter first met her in 1865.
I could wax poetic here but I won’t. I’m looking forward to the Barsoomian retro-clone that’s supposed to come out this year more than the movie, and in celebration I think I may run a game – maybe even a G+ game – later in the year that bridges Barsoom, Carcosa, Mongo, Jorune, Sulawesi and more than likely the Pliocene, along with whatever Flailsnailers bring. So here‘s the first of the campaign maps (click to enlarge a lot):
…and here’s a monster/city, for your quatrefoil-print men to explore using their Yuggotech Gossamer Gliders (indispensable, fully disposable, completely non-refundable!):
…and here’s a reminder of the alien landscapes all around us:
Because with all this embarrassment of riches of flying islands and helium engines and sinking cities and dessicated Martian salt-pans, I might just spend half the campaign exploring the amphibious possibilities of tidal sand bars and estuaries (great for your Southeast Asian pirate nemeses, natch – or maybe for all those awesome new Slaad that Scrap Princess has just invented!).
Update: thanks to Matt Kish I can add William Timlin’s The Ship That Sailed To Mars to this list. There’s something distinctively wonderful about Edwardian scifi, that I would dearly love to capture, without it turning twee. I have no idea how.